On January 06, 2013, Tom Brown would have been 100 years old. He started in silents as a child actor and in the early 30's he scored a huge hit with Richard Dix in Hell's Highway and in this picture at age 23 he shows he has acting chops to spare. He had a long career in films and an even longer one as a fine character actor in television. He was one of the country's so called "Greatest Generation" serving in WWII and the Korean War as well. Not necessarily one of the best known actors today but he should be. Check him out on IMDB if you doubt me.
This rather over the top outrageous, and creaky film was filmed before silent by First National Pictures with Richard Barthlemess as "The Noose" in late 1927. Since then, the "Hays Production Code" came in and the script obviously is watered down to fit the code and it hurts the film.
Tom Brown is acting his socks off in this and he's truly believeable in a cock-eyed way. He's light hearted and gay sort of guy and at times he's as rough as can be and at other times he's crying real tears. A Tour D'Force.
The rest of the cast is pretty pedestrian with two notable exceptions. Paul Hurst, cast against type, in this point in his career, is outstanding as a sympathetic crook and Frances Drake is very good as the girlfriend/love interest/singer. She can sing but the music while good is also rather pedestrian.
This was originally released by Paramount Pictures and it benefits from that in the MPEG-4 downloaded version. Sharp picture, very good but worn soundtrack.
It's what it is, but you can find a few things to like as well. Look for a young Harry Harvey early on as a newsman, before he became one of the best character actors in films as well. Not to everybody's taste, including mine, but 815 downleads have went by and nobody said anything about they saw. I'm just setting the record straight for Tom Browns' sake. Enjoy.